In 1993, I was listening to the secular media and Christian leadership quarrel over controversial issues of social and political concern. I sensed something was wrong in the way God’s people were responding to people with opposing views. Was it the judgmental, self-righteous tone I kept hearing, or something else? As it wasn’t clear to me what the problem was, I took time to pray, “Father, there’s so much wrong in our society and with Christianity, I have no idea what you would like me to do to help. Would you show me what’s wrong and what you would like me to do to help?”

God first introduced me to two secular organizations. The first one published guidelines for comprehensive sexuality education for public schools, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I ordered a copy of the guidelines and spent considerable time evaluating the content. As I read through them, I grew more aware of the agenda within those guidelines. It seemed clear to me that the guidelines promoted abortion, homosexuality, and sex as a pleasurable and acceptable activity outside of marriage. From my perspective, it appeared that these guidelines were a thirteen-year package to undermine parental authority and any God-honoring influence within the public school system. For example, consider these two quotes from the teaching guidelines for five-year-olds:

Abortion is legal in the United States.
Sexual intercourse is a pleasurable activity for most adults.

As I shared the latter quote with a teacher one day, she replied, “Well, how would you want that to read?”

I replied, “I would like it to read, ‘Playing in a sandbox is a pleasurable activity for five-year-olds.’

“She smiled and said, “So would I.”

Next, God led me to a local non-profit organization that trained teachers in what was referred to as Comprehensive Health Education. This group promoted or endorsed six curricula: two for elementary-age students, two for middle school, and two for high school, each having a sex education component. I picked up copies of these curricula from several schools, then drove to the office of that organization for a copy of the one curriculum their organization had paid consultants to publish.

For the next several months, I conducted additional research on these national guidelines, and evaluated hundreds of pages of curricula that the state organization promoted or endorsed. I found that the philosophies of these two organizations differed little, if at all.

I viewed their promotion of unhealthy sexuality education through the public schools as the Goliath of our day. I was prepared to fight, failing to remember that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).

To meet this formidable challenge, I condensed and organized what I had learned from my research into a three-ring binder. It contained direct quotes from the national guidelines and curricula that I had evaluated. This helped to clearly expose agendas that

I saw as detrimental to young people.

I began meeting one-to-one with the people who helped make decisions about what would be taught about sexuality in public school health classes. I spoke with teachers and the principal where my two sons attended high school. I went to other teachers, members of the Colorado State Board of Education, and Colorado legislators to simply share the truth and expose what was taking place. This one-to-one dialogue was well received.

CONVICTION

During this two-year period, I had worked closely with nine Christian abstinence educators in Colorado. They invited me to share my research publicly with larger groups of concerned citizens.

I agreed to make two such presentations. However, during those talks I found myself to be critical and judgmental, not only of the national guidelines and state curricula, but also of the motives of the leaders within those sponsoring organizations. Gently, the Holy Spirit convicted me that the critical attitude I was conveying to the audience was not the approach God desired. Shortly thereafter, I met with a good friend and mentor to discuss my efforts at trying to bring about some God-honoring changes in sex education within the public schools. While he wasn’t opposed to what I was trying to accomplish, he expressed concern about how I was going about it. On that day he conveyed his feelings with the comment, “All you want to do is fight.”

On my drive home from my friend’s office, I thought to myself, “Is that all I want to do is fight?” My first thought was, “Yes, truth is worth fighting for.”

God, however, challenged me with two questions. The first was, “Do you want to follow my Son?” to which I quickly replied, “Yes, I do.” The second was, “Did my Son fight and quarrel?”

Shortly thereafter, the following passages of Scripture came to my attention:

Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel (Matthew 12:18-19).

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

GOD ANSWERS MY PRAYER

I got the message. The very next morning I called the executive director of the state organization that trains teachers for comprehensive health education, and asked if she would be willing to meet with me to dialogue. I explained that my purpose was simply to see if we could find some common ground and learn together where we clearly disagreed. Though she knew who I was and that I had been informing people about the unhealthy aspects of the curricula her organization was promoting, she graciously accepted my offer.

At our first meeting, we agreed that our common ground would be healthier kids and a healthier society. We further agreed to meet and dialogue about the one curriculum their organization paid to have published.

We ended up dialoguing for about two hours every month for a year. Each time, we gave each other the freedom to share the truth as we each perceived it. I would listen as she shared her perspective. Then she would listen as I pointed out and explained why I believed certain words, sentences, or phrases were not healthy for children.

At the end of that one-year period, she met with her board of directors, and they agreed to rewrite the curriculum. Although we still didn’t agree in many ways, she was willing to make significant revisions. They added an entire chapter on abstinence, stating that it is a wise and desirable choice for young people, and included ten great reasons for kids to choose abstinence.

Remember my prayer? “What’s wrong with our society and with Christianity?” Well, part of the answer came at the conclusion of our second dialogue. Keep in mind, this woman had worked with the public for twenty-two years. She said:

I want you to know that in all the years I’ve been doing this, this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down with someone who has an opposing view and have honest communication.

God had shown me the need for Christlike dialogue. Ironically, I had asked God to show me something that was a problem in society, and all the while, I was part of the problem.

I had been critical and judgmental of people I didn’t even know. Though I initially had no compassion for them in my heart, God gently made it clear to me that he did—and so should I. That doesn’t mean I need to compromise truth or condone sin in any way. It does mean I must be kind. I must not quarrel. I must respond gently to people with opposing views. And, I should not expect people to see things exactly as I do.

Are you tired of hearing harsh, unkind words exchanged between people who disagree? Does it make you sad to hear people convey hatred toward someone simply because that person doesn’t agree with them? Are you willing to listen to gain understanding of what someone believes about the concern that divides you, and why they believe that way?   Are you open to sharing with them what you believe and why you believe as you do  about that same concern?

If yes to those questions, we offer 30 minutes of free coaching to prepare you to respectfully disagree and engage in honest conversation with someone who has an opposing view. We also offer additional resources listed below.

Jeff Rosenau has 30 years of experience in teaching biblical principles that prepare people to become other-minded listeners and effective communicators, especially with people who have opposing views. See https://christlikedialogue.org/free-coaching/ to schedule 30 minutes of free coaching.

Jeff is the founder and president of the ministry, Christlike Dialogue.

Website: www.Christlikedialogue.org

He is the author of Christlike Dialogue: Engaging in Conversations that Honor God.

10-week small group study: https://christlikedialogue.org/books/
Online course: https://christlikedialogue.org/online-course/
Email: [email protected]
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30-minute free coaching

Do you seek to become a better listener? Are you willing to ask questions of people with opposing views to better understand why they see things differently than you do? Would you like to see argumentative monologues replaced with honest dialogue? If so, we are offering 30 minutes of free coaching on ways to achieve those goals.